Facebook Just Hired A Man Who Teaches Computers To Think

 Yann LeCunGoogle+Yann LeCun

The race is on to create computers that can see, hear, think and reason like humans but with a computer’s speed and accuracy.

IBM has its Watson. Google has its new Quantum AI Lab in partnership with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

Facebook has a new artificial intelligence lab it announced in September. And on Monday, Facebook hired a star from this world to run it: New York University professor Yann LeCun.

LeCun announced that he was joining Facebook on a Facebook post. He’ll be running the lab part time, teaching part time and overseeing a partnership between Facebook and NYU’s Center for Data Science.

LeCun has a long history inventing computers that can think. His handwriting recognition technology is used by banks around the world. More recently he, along with University of Toronto Geoffrey Hinton, have ushered in advancements that let computers teach themselves, a concept called “unsupervised learning.”

In March, Google hired Hinton. So by hiring LeCun, Facebook has scored a notch in its AI belt, too.

This next generation of artificial intelligence is called “deep learning” and this man is so well known in the field that both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook CTO Michael Schroepfer attended a deep learning conference in Tahoe on Monday and announce the hire there, LeCun said in his post.

Facebook, IBM, and Google aren’t the ones working on deep learning. In October, Yahoo acquired LookFlow, a startup known for its deep learning image recognition tech. Teaching machines to recognise pictures is one of the holy grails of deep learning. Imagine telling your computer to collect pictures of your kids smiling and it finds them for you.

LookFlow will be the core of a new deep learning group at Yahoo, too, reports TechHive.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Researchers are busy working on deep learning tech for speech recognition.

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